Royal Malaysia Navy Kedah-class OPV KD Kelantan (175)
Royal Malaysia Navy Kedah-class OPV KD Kelantan (175)

Royal Malaysian Navy to Equip Kedah-class Corvettes with Naval Strike Missile (NSM)

The Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) has laid out an MYR214 million (USD48 million) plan to equip two of its Kedah-class corvettes with Naval Strike Missile (NSM) launchers. The plan is being proposed as a three-part procurement project under the RMN’s ‘Rolling Plan 4′ of the 12th Malaysia Plan, which runs from 2021 to 2025. The global open-source intelligence company Janes reported that Rolling Plan 4 covers proposals that will be funded in the country’s national budget for 2024. Currently, the Kedah-class vessels are armed with guns only (76 mm gun on the bow, 30 mm gun on the aft), making them quite lightly armed and fairly vulnerable for naval ships of their size, thus justifying their listing as offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) rather than proper corvettes. The missiles themselves can be easily “plugged in” with little delay as soon as the Royal Malaysian Navy has purchased them.

The Kedah-class offshore patrol vessels of the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) are six ships based on the MEKO 100 design by Blohm + Voss. Originally, a total of 27 ships were planned, but due to programme delays and overruns, only six were eventually ordered. Their construction began in the early 2000s, and by 2009, all six were in active service. The six vessels are named after Malaysian states. While their size and tonnage implies the Kedah-class ships to be corvettes, they are classified as offshore patrol vessels by the Royal Malaysian Navy, a category more common with law enforcement or coast guard vessels, not naval warships. This is rooted in the fact that the Kedah class was delivered in a condition named for but not with, meaning that certain weapon systems were not included in the original purchase, but all provisions to install and use them, including sensors and electronics, are already present in the ships.

NSM (Naval Strike Missile) Anti-ship and Land Attack Cruise Missile

The Kedah class is based on the MEKO 100 corvette. It is designed to have low radar detectability, low noise, low heat dissipation, and have an economical cruising speed. The main radar, TRS-3D/16-ES is a fully coherent multi-mode phased array C-band radar capable of fully automatic detection, track initiation, and classification of various types of targets. It is capable to track 400 air and surface targets with the detection range up to 200 km and the corresponding update times between 1 and 6 seconds. An advanced control system known as Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS) is used to monitor and control the platform machinery of the ships, including propulsion, electrical, damage control, and auxiliary machinery and systems. Due to the small ship complement, the design relies on a high degree of automation for improved operational effectiveness and survivability of the ships. The design uses intelligent electronics and sensors interconnected by data buses.

The Naval Strike Missile (NSM) is an anti-ship and land-attack missile developed by the Norwegian company Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace (KDA). The state-of-the-art design and use of composite materials is meant to give the missile sophisticated stealth capabilities. The missile will weigh slightly more than 400 kg (880 lb) and have a range of more than 185 km (115 mi; 100 nmi). NSM is designed for littoral waters (“brown water”) as well as for open sea (“green and blue water”) scenarios. The usage of a high strength titanium alloy blast/fragmentation warhead from TDW is in line with the modern lightweight design and features insensitive high-explosive. Warhead initiation is by a void-sensing Programmable Intelligent Multi-Purpose Fuze designed to optimise effect against hard targets. NSM is able to fly over and around landmasses, travel in sea skim mode, and then make random manoeuvres in the terminal phase, making it harder to stop by enemy countermeasures.

Royal Malaysia Navy Kedah-class OPV KD Terengganu (174)